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Work + domestic perfection = marriage strain

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Helping guide the career of a promising colleague is a wonderful thing, but there are many ways for the relationship to turn rancid, and having the older partner develop a romantic interest in the younger is at the top of the list.

London - Career women who have a “compulsion” to juggle a demanding job with being a domestic goddess are putting a strain on their marriages, according to an agony aunt.

Denise Robertson believes some women put too much pressure on themselves to deliver at home and in the office and are reluctant to share the household chores with men.

Robertson, 78, the agony aunt on ITV’s This Morning, says that although careers have made women more independent and financially secure, and have freed them from some unbearable marriages, the result is that their world is more stressful.

“Careers have given women independence, but gone is the tranquil world my mother knew,” she writes in an article for the Radio Times.

“In most two-career homes, it is women who still bear most of the domestic responsibility.

“And not always because the man is lazy – there is an in-built compulsion in some women to remain domestic goddesses while holding down a demanding job.”

She describes how she grew up with very happily married parents and says that although they encountered many problems including business failure and the death of a child, her parents’ love for one another “sustained them”.

She reveals how each morning as her father left for work “they would cling together in the hall, as if he were going to another continent”.

She adds: “My sister and I would jeer from the stairs and call out ‘Hollywood’ but we liked it all the same.”

Robertson says modern couples can leave a marriage with greater ease if it is not working. But many are also guilty of being unwilling to work as hard to keep their marriages strong. She writes: “Why do so many marriages break down?

“If I am right in thinking marriages in previous generations endured because the woman, in particular, had no means of escape, it was inevitable that women’s hard-won economic independence would make them unwilling to stay in an arrangement that had become unbearable.

“Men, too, have been liberated from feeling they must stay because they are the sole breadwinner. Perhaps marriage breaks down more often today because we don’t work hard enough to keep it together.

“Leaving simply because you can is defeatist and if our new independence makes us less likely to see marriage as a life-long commitment, that is sad.”

Robertson, who has been married three times and widowed twice, also criticises the trend for co-habiting, writing: “What I don’t understand is the present reluctance to commit to marriage while entering into the much greater commitment of parenthood. ‘I don’t feel we need this bit of paper,’ they tell me.

“But a marriage ceremony is much, much more than a bit of paper. A wedding lets you tell the world, ‘’We belong together’.”

÷The full interview with Denise Robertson is in this week’s Radio Times.- Daily Mail

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